How to Change a Headlight Bulb Socket

Written by chris moore
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How to Change a Headlight Bulb Socket
The bulb socket is within the headlight housing. (headlight image by Tammy Mobley from

In some cases, a car headlight that doesn't work can be the result of a bad bulb socket instead of the headlight bulb itself burning out. If you have changed the headlight bulb but the light still doesn't work, you will likely need to replace the socket. This procedure is similar to replacing the bulb itself since you often need to remove the socket to change the bulb anyway.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wrench
  • Headlight bulb socket
  • Headlight bulb

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  1. 1

    Open the bonnet of the vehicle and disconnect the vehicle's negative battery cable--in most cases, loosen the clamp nut holding the black cable with a wrench so you can unsnap the cable from the battery terminal.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the electrical connectors for the headlight bulbs.

  3. 3

    Remove the headlight housing from the car body: Remove its mounting screws with a wrench, or pull out its retaining clips from the top of the housing. On some vehicles, you can access the bulb socket without removing the headlight housing.

  4. 4

    Twist the bulb socket counterclockwise to remove it from the headlight housing. Pull the bulb out of the socket if you are certain the bulb is still good. Wear gloves; touching the bulb glass with your bare hands could leave a cloudy film on the glass.

  5. 5

    Wearing gloves, insert the headlight bulb into the replacement socket, be it the old bulb or a new one.

  6. 6

    Connect the socket into the headlight housing--insert it into its mounting hole and twist it clockwise.

  7. 7

    Install the headlight housing into the car body if needed and secure it with its mounting bolts or clips.

  8. 8

    Reconnect the negative battery cable.

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